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14 Pointers From a Life Veteran

I have spent the largest part of my career working in an industry that is typically classed as a “starter” job.  By that I mean that this is a place where many kids get their first exposure to an hourly job.  Yes this place is your trusted fast food restaurant.  I have been everything from an employee in the trenches to the top manager in the restaurant.  One thing has been constant throughout this period.  These kids like to think they have all the answers, and that they are the next big thing.  However, as someone who has been in the trenches for many years, I know one thing.  This just isn’t true.  I would like to share with you a list of fourteen rules of life.  Even though this was originally printed in 1996, and some of the statements might have become a bit dated (insert cell phone for car phone for example) it certainly still has validity today.  As is usually the case, this will make us “veterans” smile, and it will make the “youngsters” think that this is so not true.  Read on my friends.

Some Rules Kids Won’t Learn in School
Text by Charles J. Sykes
Printed in San Diego Union Tribune
September 19, 1996

Unfortunately, there are some things that children should be learning in school, but don’t. Not all of them have to do with academics. As a modest back-to-school offering, here are some basic rules that may not have found their way into the standard curriculum.

Rule No. 1: Life is not fair. Get used to it. The average teen-ager uses the phrase, “It’s not fair” 8.6 times a day. You got it from your parents, who said it so often you decided they must be the most idealistic generation ever. When they started hearing it from their own kids, they realized Rule No. 1.

Rule No. 2: The real world won’t care as much about your self-esteem as much as your school does. It’ll expect you to accomplish something before you feel good about yourself. This may come as a shock. Usually, when inflated self-esteem meets reality, kids complain it’s not fair. (See Rule No. 1)

Rule No. 3: Sorry, you won’t make $40,000 a year right out of high school. And you won’t be a vice president or have a car phone either. You may even have to wear a uniform that doesn’t have a Gap label.

Rule No. 4: If you think your teacher is tough, wait ’til you get a boss. He doesn’t have tenure, so he tends to be a bit edgier. When you screw up, he’s not going to ask you how you feel about it.

Rule No. 5: Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity. Your grand-parents had a different word of burger flipping. They called it opportunity. They weren’t embarrassed making minimum wage either. They would have been embarrassed to sit around talking about Kurt Cobain all weekend.

Rule No. 6: It’s not your parents’ fault. If you screw up, you are responsible. This is the flip side of “It’s my life,” and “You’re not the boss of me,” and other eloquent proclamations of your generation. When you turn 18, it’s on your dime. Don’t whine about it, or you’ll sound like a baby boomer.

Rule No. 7: Before you were born your parents weren’t as boring as they are now. They got that way paying your bills, cleaning up your room and listening to you tell them how idealistic you are. And by the way, before you save the rain forest from the blood-sucking parasites of your parents’ generation, try delousing the closet in your bedroom.

Rule No. 8: Your school may have done away with winners and losers. Life hasn’t. In some schools, they’ll give you as many times as you want to get the right answer. Failing grades have been abolished and class valedictorians scrapped, lest anyone’s feelings be hurt. Effort is as important as results. This, of course, bears not the slightest resemblance to anything in real life. (See Rule No. 1, Rule No. 2 and Rule No. 4)

Rule No. 9: Life is not divided into semesters, and you don’t get summers off. Not even Easter break. They expect you to show up every day. For eight hours. And you don’t get a new life every 10 weeks. It just goes on and on. While we’re at it, very few jobs are interested in fostering your self-expression or helping you find yourself. Fewer still lead to self-realization. (See Rule No. 1 and Rule No. 2.)

Rule No. 10: Television is not real life. Your life is not a sitcom. Your problems will not all be solved in 30 minutes, minus time for commercials. In real life, people actually have to leave the coffee shop to go to jobs. Your friends will not be as perky or pliable as Jennifer Aniston.

Rule No. 11: Be nice to nerds. You may end up working for them. We all could.

Rule No. 12: Smoking does not make you look cool. It makes you look moronic. Next time you’re out cruising, watch an 11-year-old with a butt in his mouth. That’s what you look like to anyone over 20. Ditto for “expressing yourself” with purple hair and/or pierced body parts.

Rule No. 13: You are not immortal. (See Rule No. 12.) If you are under the impression that living fast, dying young and leaving a beautiful corpse is romantic, you obviously haven’t seen one of your peers at room temperature lately.

Rule No. 14: Enjoy this while you can. Sure parents are a pain, school’s a bother, and life is depressing. But someday you’ll realize how wonderful it was to be a kid. Maybe you should start now.

You’re welcome.

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About Mike Lemons
I'm a guy in his 40's who has been bumming around the net for years. I am married to a wonderful woman, and have 3 gorgeous kids.

3 Responses to 14 Pointers From a Life Veteran

  1. Kreszentia says:

    Terrific information, I will be viewing back again persistently to look around for updates.

  2. vakkermom says:

    I love this. I’ve heard a few of them before, but not in their entirety and not in this context. Oh man…sometimes I really want to say stuff like this to people I see. I work at a university, so I see a LOT of this way of thinking. Lol!

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